Let’s talk about sex! x 4
Ladies, all the ladies, louder now, help me out!
Come on, all the ladies – let’s talk about sex, all right
Yo, Pep, I don’t think they’re gonna play this on the radio
And why not? Everybody has sex!
– Let’s Talk About Sex (Salt-N-Pepa)
Sex as a topic, in general, is uncomfortable but other societies make the added effort to talk to their youth. Yet for us, as Africans, it usually is a conversation that fails to take place.
More than ever now, Africa and more specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa, this talk needs to happen!
According to the United Nations Population Fund, Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest prevalence of teenage pregnancy in the world in 2013.
A school in South Africa that has reported 36 pregnancies; three of those pregnancies belong to one 17year-old-boy. An additional troubling fact is that 13 of the girls were found to be HIV positive.
Avoiding this talk may feel like keeping children innocent but sadly, our failure in preparing them has resulted in a long-lasting, dire, string of consequences measurable in statistics.
Teenagers are experimenting sexually and unfortunately many are not fully ready or armed with facts. Medical advisors and facilitators can only offer so much but a discussion with a trusted parent would definitely help drop the stipulated levels of over 30% of teen pregnancies in the majority of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Zimbabwe’s highest records of teen pregnancy come from the provinces of Mashonaland Central at 31% and Matabeleland South at 30% according to Gertrude Katsande, the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) Provincial Manager for Mashonaland West.
“The youth constitute 62% of the population (Census 2012), but 17% of those youth are already mothers, and our family planning services also include counselling of those people that are already sexually active to avoid the consequences of not using contraception,” Katsande said.
Abebe Shibru, Population Services Zimbabwe (PSZ) Country Director believes that there is a barrier in accessing family planning services;
“some of the young people are shy to access these family planning services; hence, there is a need to conscientize society on these issues”.
Many others share this thought but in an effort to resolve this we might need to also start asking why these young people are shy? At times one finds that when these young people do go to the family planning centres they are made to feel ashamed.
Many do not even know such facilities exist.
How we communicate or fail to do so with the younger generations amongst us is a contributing factor to the teen pregnancies and HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa.
As Africans, certain topics are off limits, they are taboo and only whispered with trusted confidants but are we achieving anything or shooting ourselves in the foot?